Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nairn Swimming Pool - Labour Candidate 'hugely concerned about the consultation process'

Mike Robb the Labour Party Candidate has blogged about the Nairn Swimming Pool situation. He writes: 

'Since the start of the week, the local news has been dominated by Highland Council’s proposed programme of cuts to local services, including the Nairn Swimming Pool. There is a Facebook campaign to save the pool here.

As I have no direct connection with Nairn, I’ll avoid the easy option of signing up for the campaign as if the Nairn pool is a facility I have used and loved. I do however, fully support what local community campaigners are trying to achieve.

The Labour party is making the case at this election for protecting front-line services whilst we secure the recovery. That’s not easy, but local services, and the jobs that depend on them, should not be paying the price for the excesses of the banking system. And if a much-used local swimming pool is not a front line service, I don’t know what is!

I am hugely concerned about the consultation process currently being undertaken by Highland Council. We face difficult financial times, but asking communities to compete with each other about what services should be cut and which should be saved is not how I think things should be done.

Earlier this week I visited Hilton Community Centre, in Inverness, who are also on the list of potential closures. Should they have to argue why they should be saved rather than Nairn’s pool? Setting community against community is no way to do things. It’s an invidious process.

Elected politicians are there to make the difficult decisions, not absolve themselves through a flawed process of consultation.'

Read the rest on Mike Robb's blog.

UPDATE: if you don't normally read comments on the Gurn, we'd recommend the one received so far on this article.

1 comment:

Nairn said...

At least there seems to be some honesty from Mike Robb in his support of Nairn swimming pool, more importantly he highlights the appalling situation Highland Council is placing communities in.
Communities need to come together to support each other at this time, we certainly do not want us to be fighting amongst ourselves ‘your swimming pool or mine’ even if that seems to be the card that Highland Council are dealing us

To say that there had been some rash spending by Highland Council in recent years might be seen as an understatement, it’s certainly a hindsight view that is easily agreed.
In common with many large organisations I would suggests that what we really need is for Highland Council to be restructured in a way that we could clearly understand and agree to. Like many large organisations it’s growth hasn’t necessarily been mapped or planned, it has just grown

The problem is that this is exactly the wrong time to restructure in that it would take substantial sums of money that the council don’t have, so their alternative is to cling on with white knuckles to as much of the organisation as they can over the next few years.

Eventually in a decade or so we may crawl out of this recession, by which time we will have numerous empty community buildings and very scaled back council services. Communities will never forgive their council or councillors for the cutbacks that will bite deep into every Highland glen, town, and village.

Too many managers may seem like an obvious assessment when looking at the council accounts, but the reality we are looking at an organisation that has spent beyond its means and now needs to scale back severely. We also have to look further afield in monitory terms such as the freeze on council tax imposed by the current Scottish government and also spending constraints put in place by Westminster post the banking crisis
We also have to remember that the Highland Council is a big employer in the Highlands so any job losses will also affect spending within all communities

Nairnmatters picks up this point by stating that the swimming pool is a distraction. In many ways it is as it deflects us from the real changes that need to be made within the council but are not going to happen through the channels that the council wish to open to us.

The consultation that Highland Council is trying to shoe horn us into is about us the public making terrible choices as to what services we want to see cut. I suggest that they give communities a blank sheet of paper with regard what we would like to see changed, the reading might prove slightly uncomfortable if you are sat at Glenurquahart Road!

I would highlight the point that Mr Robb makes

‘Elected politicians are there to make the difficult decisions, not absolve themselves through a flawed process of consultation.'